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Colts To Stun Texans In Wildcard Round

January 3, 2019

The 2018/19 NFL Playoffs begin with a showdown between two familiar foes as the Houston Texans host the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium.

The Colts were the last team into the post-season courtesy of a win on the road over the Tennessee Titans. Andrew Luck was on point for his team, throwing three touchdown passes to see off Mike Vrabel’s men and snatch the number six seed.

Houston held up their side of the bargain by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars in their push for a bye. However, the New England Patriots’ victory over the New York Jets allowed them to secure the number two seed in the AFC Conference, forcing the Texans to host Indianapolis on Saturday.

The Colts defeated the Texans in their last meeting, which only came in December. Wide receiver TY Hilton produced a brilliant performance, notching 199 receiving yards and a touchdown in his side’s 24-21 triumph. Houston’s offense was stymied by Indianapolis’ defense, who have had their moments this term, especially late in the campaign.

Houston won the earlier match-up, but only due to a bold decision from Frank Reich to go for an ambitious fourth down in overtime. Indianapolis failed to convert and the Texans kicked a short field goal for the win. Both of the contests between the two sides have been close therefore it should be an enthralling game.

Luck will carry the Colts forward

Houston Texans

The Texans became the first team in the NFL since 1998 to reach the playoffs after starting the campaign 0-3. It was an impressive response from the club as pressure had been growing on Bill O’Brien due to their sluggish opening. There were mitigating factors as Watson and JJ Watt were returning from serious injuries and were finding their feet on the field.

However, the overtime victory over the Colts kickstarted their term and they dropped only two matches out of the following 12, including a run of nine-straight wins. Houston will have been frustrated to miss out on a bye, failing to see off Indianapolis on home soil, which would have been enough to secure the two seed.

Watson has proven his quality throughout the term. He enjoyed a great battle with Nick Foles against the Philadelphia Eagles. Although the Texans lost the match, the performance of his quarterback will give O’Brien hope going into the post-season. DeAndre Hopkins is arguably the best receiver in the NFL and continued to make astounding catches. Between Watson and Hopkins, there is the talent to put points on the board. Demaryius Thomas’ injury has left a void at the number two spot, which will force another player to rise to the occasion on offense.

Houston have the most talented defense in the AFC playoff, especially in the front seven. They have to make their quality count against Luck and company. Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus and Watt all have to be at their best to knock off their rivals.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are a dangerous team heading into the post-season. Indianapolis were 1-5 in their campaign and appeared to be heading towards a lost term. However, they were able to win nine out of their last 10 matches to clinch a playoff berth, including their victory over the Texans on the road. Reich has performed a minor miracle to get his side competing once again, aided by solid drafting from Chris Ballard. Luck has been afforded time in the pocket to complete throws downfield.

Only Patrick Mahomes threw more touchdowns than Luck in the regular season, proving that the 29-year-old is back to his best after his shoulder injury. He was impressive against the Titans, leading two long drives early in the contest to hand the Colts control. Luck always has a propensity to make one mistake.

The quarterback’s pick-six against Tennessee may have costly on another day, but Blaine Gabbert was not able to capitalise to put Indianapolis to the sword. Watson and the other signal-callers in the playoffs have the ability to punish errors. Playmaking could be an issue outside of Hilton, who has been struggling with an injury. Eric Ebron has 14 touchdowns on the term, although consistency has been an issue with the tight end throughout his career.

The Colts need players to rise to the occasion on both sides of the ball. Matt Eberflus has done brilliantly without a lot of star talent on defense. Darius Leonard has been the key cog in the middle of the unit, but whether the linebacker is enough to spearhead a stout effort in his first experience of the playoffs remains to be seen.

Match Betting Options

The Colts are on a roll and appear to have the Texans number. Luck has the ability to make throws into tight windows to expose Houston’s secondary even without Hilton operating at full speed. Marlon Mack and Nyhem Hines are dangerous out of the backfield, alleviating the pressure on Luck. Houston may not have the firepower to keep up with the Colts if the game becomes a shootout due to their overreliance on Hopkins.

Back the Colts to win for the second time of the campaign at NRG Stadium at odds of +105  with TopBet. The spread of -1.5 for the Colts to match their victory of the meeting between the two teams on December 9 is a good bet to take at 23/20  at 888Sport.

Expect the contest to be in the region of the 40 to 50 point range, with the over/under line being set at 48.5 points by Bovada. Take the under for value at odds of -105 , matching the 24-21 game from December. Expect at least one score from special teams or defense in the game due to Luck and Watson’s ability to turn the ball over at odds of +180  with TopBet.

Player Betting Options

Ebron has found the endzone 14 times over the course of the campaign. His health is a factor, but given the importance of the contest he should play through the pain. Back him to find the endzone anytime at odds of 6/4  with Bet365.

The Colts should pay a lot of attention to Hopkins in the final third therefore Watson will have to look elsewhere. Jordan Thomas has four touchdowns to his name back him to score a crucial strike in the playoffs at odds of 15/4  with 888Sport.

There is a strong chance that Hopkins will have a huge game in a losing effort. Take him to lead the Wildcard Round in receiving yards at +300  with BetOnline, while on the other side take Luck to lead it in passing yards at +400 .

Tips Summary

Indianapolis Colts To Beat Houston Texans
Saturday 5th January 2019 16:35 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: +105

Indianapolis Colts -1.5 Spread
Saturday 5th January 2019 16:35 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: 23/20

Under 48.5 Total Points To Be Scored
Saturday 5th January 2019 16:35 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: -105

Defensive Or Special Teams Touchdown To Be Scored
Saturday 5th January 2019 16:35 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: +180

Eric Ebron To Score Touchdown Anytime
Saturday 5th January 2019 16:35 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: 6/4

Jordan Thomas To Score Touchdown Anytime
Saturday 5th January 2019 16:35 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: 15/4

DeAndre Hopkins To Lead Wildcard Round In Receiving Yards
Saturday 5th January 2019 16:35 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: +300

Andrew Luck To Lead Wildcard Round In Passing Yards
Saturday 5th January 2019 16:35 ET (21:25 GMT)
Odds: +400

  • Andrew Luck
  • Deshaun Watson
  • Houston Texans
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • NFL

    About the author

    Simon Sinclair
    Simon Sinclair

    Sports Writer

    Simon is a freelance sports writer from the UK. He passionately writes about all kinds of sports, sharing his predictions on everything from the latest cricket matches and golf tournaments to major horse racing events and popular American sports.